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4-307 Editorial Note on WAC, March 1944
Editorial Note on WAC
EFFECTIVE March 1, 1944, the Office of the Director of the Women’s Army Corps moved from the Army Service Forces to the General Staff, G-1 Division. The director was authorized to deal directly with other agencies of the War Department without approval of the assistant chief of staff, G-1. (Colonel Howard E. Kessinger G-1 Office Memorandum, February 26, 1944, NA/ RG 165 [OCS, 324.5 WAC].) Previously the Army Service Forces had repeatedly disapproved proposals concerning W.A.C. issues that were army-wide, which therefore never reached the General Staff. Severe shortages of W.A.C. uniforms and criticism of the appearance of the uniform, for which the Army Service Forces was responsible, continued to draw more attention. In early 1944 General Marshall expressed his dissatisfaction, especially as it affected recruiting. “In the matter of public relations,” writes W.A.C. historian Treadwell, “a rapid deterioration had been noted after the Army Service Forces took over operating duties” when the W.A.A.C. became the W.A.C. (Treadwell, Women’s Army Corps, pp. 269-72. See Marshall Memorandum for the Bureau of Public Relations, January 26, 1944, Papers of George Catlett Marshall, #4-212 [4: 246-48].)
Adding fuel to the fire, the director’s move had not been completed when the Meek Report reached the chief of staff. Authored by Samuel W. Meek—a member of an advertising agency that was a competitor of the firm that handled advertising for the Women’s Army Corps—the report criticized the operation of the W.A.C. program, “alleging that Director Hobby and her advertising advisers had overlooked many obvious means of improving recruitment, had failed to improve the WAC uniform, and had allowed the WAC to fall far below the WAVES in public esteem.” The charges proved unfounded, but no one disputed the statement about the W.A.C. uniform, which Gallup polls had reported few women preferred. (Ibid., pp. 272-74.)
Director Oveta Culp Hobby studied the charges and prepared recommendations. In a preliminary report Colonel Hobby stated that “the two greatest deterrents to WAC recruiting are the attitude of soldiers toward women in the military services and apathy of unmarried non-working women. The Gallup survey developed that 60% of the unmarried nonworking women interviewed felt that their present occupation was more important than joining one of the military services.” She recommended that both President Roosevelt and General Marshall make a radio talk or speech to emphasize the need for women in the military services. She also recommended making short orientation films in addition to a recruiting film showing the chief of staff promoting the Women’s Army Corps. (Hobby Memorandum for the Chief of Staff, March 16, 1944, NA/RG 165 [OCS, 324.5 WAC].)
Recommended Citation: ThePapers of George Catlett Marshall, ed.Larry I. Bland and Sharon Ritenour Stevens(Lexington, Va.: The George C. Marshall Foundation, 1981- ). Electronic version based on The Papers of George Catlett Marshall, vol. 4, “Aggressive and Determined Leadership,” June 1, 1943-December 31, 1944 (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1996), pp. 359-360.